The Ring gets a lot of criticism, not just for its massive surveillancevideo doorbells and its problematic privacy and security practices, but also for giving that doorbell footage to law enforcement. While Ring is moving towards transparency, the company refuses to disclose how many .
The video doorbell maker,in 2018, has partnerships with at least 1,800 U.S. police departments (growing) that can request from Ring doorbells. Before a change this , any police department that Ring partnered with could privately request doorbell camera footage from Ring customers for an active investigation. The Ring will now let its police user video footage through its Neighbors app.
The change ostensibly gives Ring users more control when police can access their doorbell footage but ignores privacy concerns that police can access users’ footage without a warrant.
Civil liberties advocates and lawmakers have longcan obtain camera footage from Ring users through a legal back door because private users own Ring’s sprawling network of doorbell cameras. Police can still serve Ring with a lawful demand, such as a subpoena for basic user information, a content, assuming evidence of a crime.
According to a transparencyquietly in January, Ring received over 1,800 legal demands during 2020, more than double of the year earlier. A circle does not disclose . But the report leaves out the context that most transparency reports include: how many users or accounts had footage given to police when Ring was served with a legal demand?
When reached, Ring declined tohad footage obtained by police. That number of users or accounts subject to searches is not inherently secret. Still, an obscure side effect of how companies decide — if at all — to disclose when the . Though they are not obligated to, most publish transparency reports once or twice a year to show how the government obtains often user data.
Transparency reports allowedagainst damning allegations of intrusive bulk government surveillance by showing that only a fraction of a company’s users are subject to government demands.
But context is everything. Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Twitter all reveal how many legal demands they receive and specify how manygiven. In some cases, the number of users or accounts affected can be twice or more than threefold the number of demands received.
Ring’s parent, Amazon, is a rare exception among thegiants, which does not eliminate the specific number of users whose information was turned over to law enforcement.
“Ring is ostensibly a security camera company that makes devices you can put on your own homes, but it is increasingly also a tool of the state to conduct criminal investigations and surveillance,” Matthew Guariglia, a policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told TechCrunch.
Guariglia added that Ring could release the numbers of users subject to legal demands and how many users have previouslyrequests through the app.
Ring users can opt out of receiving requests from police, but this option would not stop law enforcement from obtaining a legal order from a judge for your data. Users can also switch onto prevent anyone other than the user, including Ring, from accessing their videos.